Deep Thoughts by Victoria Handy

I often find myself thinking.

Thinking must be one of those human conditions. Probably should get it checked.

The mind fuckery of my daily life often revolves around a simple question. Who am I?

It isn’t the question a 40 year old is typically asking themselves. That question would most likely be, “What the fuck have I been doing with my life?” The classic midlife crisis question.

Rest assured I ask myself THAT a lot too. But hey, I grew boobs for my midlife crisis so I kind of have that covered.

For me, it is the, “Who” rather than the “What” that hangs me up. Such is the joy of 2nd puberty. People said these would be awkward years. I had no idea how awkward.

The problem is, children in many ways are formed. They are an expressive mixture of their genetic and societal influences growing up. I have to do this shit myself, against society, genetics and upbringing in so many ways. This isn’t how it is typically done.

So… I take my time.

I am sure that bothers some people. Tough titties.

I have heard ALL the criticisms. It quickly becomes clear people sometimes just don’t like that I am trans, so if that means one person will tell me I am too girly, and another will tell me I am not girly enough. You can do nothing right in the eyes of many when you are trans.

That bullshit alone was enough to convince me to go at my own pace and to never try to meet someone else’s expectations.

The truth is, I have no clue how I will turn out. But there is a method to my madness. Puberty takes a LONG time for anyone. No human is the same person at the start of it as they are at the end. It changes and shapes not only your form, but your thoughts and motivations as well. Over that time, you start to let go of childhood.

In that sense, my, “Childhood” lasted 37 long, oft torturous, male years. That shit takes time to sift through, sort out, process, and see what needs to be let go of and what to hold close. It is like a living, post mortem. Shit’s weird.

Meanwhile, my body keeps changing. The fat finally got around to migrating, it is a blessing and a curse. Every day I feel more feminine, if only because less muscle and more subcutaneous fat quite literally changes how almost everything else feels to the touch. My boobs have hit another growth spurt and are well past hiding without heavy layers or binding. 3 years into this and they are THIS size? If these were on a teenage frame, you’d be going, “Oh honey, they aren’t even close to being done growing.” So like puberty, my body is forcing the process’s pace in many ways no matter how ready my mind may be.

And like a teenage girl, there comes a point when those physical changes begin to subtly alter the way the world around you treats you.

And like a teenage girl, those changes are met with feelings of relief, curiosity and dread.

And like a teenage girl, I have a lot of shit going on in my head right now. I am prone to emotional outbursts that make sense only to me.

So I can start to get bitter if I am not careful. “These changes aren’t moving at MY pace!”

Suddenly I am thinking, “I can gain weight just by thinking of food!”

And like a teenager, OMG my appetite!!!

So while folks judge me, and my transition, like they do… it doesn’t bother me much. I always expected there to be criticism. I have other shit on my mind. Like, “Who am I?”

I am trying to find out who I am without forcing it. I am using roughly the same timeframe every other pubescent female uses, Mother Nature’s.

I dunno. Figuring out who I am is a full time job and it will remain one for several more years. I’ll get there eventually. The journey isn’t particularly fun, and it is quite lonely at times, but I am trying to avoid forcing anything that would otherwise happen naturally. And I am starting to see signs that it is paying off.

Aloha,
Tori

Losing My Religion

For my latest research project, I have been studying how to talk about trans issues with strangers on the Internet. I already wrote about talking to certain homosexuals who are anti-trans. Today, I will talk about a particularly fascinating topic: Communicating with people who are very religious.

This is a sensitive subject, and while I will do my best to be fair to all sides, please

know in spite of my intent, this post will probably offend some of you. I understand this and apologize in advance. Stop reading now if you would rather not risk taking offense, especially if you are a devout Christian.

Full disclosure, I am an atheist. I was raised Lutheran. I also went through an agnostic period. Born and raised in Utah, many of my friends are devout Mormons. I delved into Buddhism, but if anything, I was and am drawn more to its secular aspects. If you have to tag me with a belief, you can call me a Secular Buddhist. I call myself an atheist.

Religion and spirituality fascinate me. I am a spiritual person. Humans have a HUGE capacity for spirituality, so why not use it?

A spiritual atheist? Yup. How? Because I believe in invisible, intangible things. I believe in love, imagination/creativity… etc. I just put my stock in the intangible that can be made tangible in this life, not the next.

Atheists can be devout. I do not know if I am or not. I like to think I am flexible, but I do tend to base my beliefs on scientific evidence rather than theological evidence.

I have a profound respect for many people of faith, and their security in their beliefs. Where I draw the line is when their beliefs cause a real conflict with my life, particularly my life as a transgender woman.

Readers of this blog know full well, this is the first time I have talked about my beliefs or lack of them. I hope I do not preach. I do not care to convert anyone. Go live your spiritual life your way. I shall do it my way. Thanks.

That said, talking about trans issues with religious strangers online (and even friends) is often enough, like getting in a pissing contest with a skunk. Sadly, I still have not found a method that works perfectly.

It frequently feels like I am talking to grown-ass adults who are telling me their imaginary friend wants to send me into imaginary damnation for being exactly who I feel I was born to be: A transgender female.

I believe in trans. I am trans. It is stark. It is real. It is tangible. It is frightening. What kind of grown-ass adult would negate this experience? One who has an imaginary friend. That is who.

And I just fell into a trap. By negating their beliefs, by calling their God an imaginary friend, I, a grown-ass adult myself, have just invalidated their experience. Their belief is real. It does not matter if it is correct. They have studied, gone to church, listened to sermons, prayed… etc. Those things are all as real as my transition and, my need to transition is as spiritual as their belief in God.

Another trap? Persecution. Christian advocates are as out of the closet as I am as a trans advocate. Both sides face frequent persecution. If I call them bigoted, they can say the same thing about me and we would both be right.

Yet another trap? People generally have good intentions. Even classic trolls just intend to entertain themselves for a short time. When a devout Christian tells me, “You are just a man in a dress. You are a sinner. You will burn in Hell.”, what they are really saying is, “Look dumbass, I am trying to save your eternal life here. Fuck THIS life. Suck it up and stop being trans. Be a good Christian. The next life is going to be worth the pain you suffer in this one.”

Of course, I have tried explaining how, “Thou shalt not trans.” is not a commandment. No dice. Never.

I have tried, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” No luck. They have heard that one before. They have convinced themselves they are not casting judgement because their intent is to save me. That intent is noble.

On that note, I know my Bible very well but who cares? If someone knows I disagree with their beliefs, why would they care what I have to say about their source material, even if I just quote it chapter and verse without embellishment? It is a dead end.

So what works best? Taking the higher ground. Stick to the REAL topic, which is trans related. Respectfully avoid their attempts to draw you into a religious discussion. Stick to facts. Stick to science. Have credible links at your fingertips to back yourself up. Be nice… even if you blow a blood vessel in your eye by doing it.

And here is the best tip I have to offer: Be like Jesus. Forgive them, for they know not what they do. Turn the other cheek. Be a better person in the discussion than they are being. Don’t judge. Don’t cast stones.

If they have been mean and do not eventually see their own hypocrisy, others certainly will, and they may chime in to defend you. Control the tone of the discussion. Calm heads prevail. If someone joins in to defend you but they are cruel to your opponent, call them out and defend your opponent from the cruelty of those comments.

Your goal in online discussions as a trans advocate can be winning. It can be making another person look bad.

My goal is not to win. Not at least to win against one opponent, but rather to sway the largest percentage of people I possibly can. You have to think about what your audience will respond to most positively. Your opponent just gives you a platform to discuss your position in either a positive or a negative way. If you take the negative road, you will sway far fewer people who happen to be on the fence.

There is so much cruelty online, so the opposite of cruelty can frequently get more traction.

And always remember: Sometimes it is best to just walk away and live to fight another day.

Let me leave you with an example:

“I am sorry. I trust your intent is noble. I know you are trying your best to lead me to a glorious afterlife. I do not blame you. I understand. Thank you for your kindness.

Your beliefs just do not change my stark reality any more than my being trans will change your beliefs. If you have it in your heart to accept me in spite of this difference, please do. If you feel the need to pray for me, who am I to judge what you do with your time? In fact, it may work.

I am willing to accept my lot, and I promise I will do my best with this life, so if we both are to be judged by God, we still might see each other in the next one… in spite of my spending my life as a transgender woman.

I wish we could find common ground, but alas, it may never happen. Please accept this and know that neither I nor my transition will ever cause you any personal harm.”

Aloha,
Tori

One of the Guys

I hated being a guy but sometimes I miss being one of the guys.

I was talking to a friend who is also transitioning and the discussion moved towards how our relationships with others have changed. It mostly was about our male friends. Our experiences are quite similar. We are relating better with women than men. Men are becoming harder and harder to figure out in spite of all our experience in men’s shoes.

My relationships with most men have changed vastly. Only a very few have remained much as they were before.

One close friend told me a few weeks ago that I had changed. I am like a different person now.

The discussion that followed really shook me to the core.

He was speaking honestly and from the heart. He was not being mean. All the same, it seemed like a mark of the end of our relationship. I hope it isn’t.

But shit, I have been in transition for over a year and a half now. All the while, I have been the star of my own movie. I guess I had moved past worrying about the impact my transition has on people who are close to me. This reminded me that it is a bit of an adjustment for everyone.

To me, I feel like I have changed very little. That may come as a surprise. But, I started transition with the same consciousness I have today. Whatever it is that makes me a unique and living human was never rebooted with a brand new operating system. My brain is still my brain. I started transition as me. I remain me.

Transition is SLOW. I always say it can be like watching paint dry. Perhaps my personality has changed far more than I had thought.

I think there is more to it though. Other people’s perception also plays a HUGE role. To some people, TOLERANT people, simply viewing me as a woman or a trans woman completely changes how they feel they should relate to me.

Obviously, men tend to treat women differently than they treat other men. Men, usually heterosexual, commonly avoid friendships with women. The friend zone is a bad thing according to most men. Femininity holds far less value In male circles, and women are easily ignored or talked over. The whole dynamic is different.

Then, there are the guys who have become flirtatious. What a bizarre, confusing form of flattery to someone like me who is not used to it. Many men though, only know how to communicate to women through flirtation. It rarely means anything besides the person likes me and is trying to express it.

There is just a general distancing that has evolved over time. I am far from the only trans woman who has experienced this.

The longer men have to wrap their head around my transition, the less they see me as one of the guys. They forget what it was like to hang out with me. They replace these memories with new thoughts of me being a trans female.

My relations with women have evolved too. These differences were far quicker for me to notice.

Many trans women talk about how women start behaving differently around them shortly after starting hormone replacement therapy. It just becomes easier to talk with women within a few weeks, even for those trans women who have not come out.

Obviously, part of that is the hormones. Hormones are like drugs. Men and women are all stoned out of their gourds, they are just high on different substances. Thinking whilst high on estrogen has to effect how a person interprets other people on estrogen.

The next thing is pretty cool. I think it is partly pheromonal. One of the first things to change on hormones is how you smell. That musky to foul male scent I could not always shake was replaced with something far more mild and female. I do not smell male anymore and I suspect that really changed how women act around me. Why do I think this is the case? Because before I came out but shortly after starting hormones, female strangers, female cashiers… etc. started talking to me. Just small talk. It started happening far more frequently than it did before

Finally, my sex drive plummeted in those first weeks on hormones, so I was more likely to communicate with women without that awkwardness of wanting to check out her tits while knowing I shouldn’t.

By the time I came out, I was already relating differently to females and they were relating differently to me. This has only become deeper since then, to the point where I now think I understand the women I talk to better than the men.

The main thing I think coming out did, was it showed women how I too embraced my feminine side. I did not think less of women, like many men seem to. We were on the same team.

So, back to my friend who thinks I have changed, and I am almost a different person. I guess I have changed. I guess I am like a different person. I guess he is right. I don’t know if things will or ever can return to how they used to be. I don’t know if I want them to.

All I know is, I still do occasionally miss being one of the guys… but I love transition.

Aloha,
Tori

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Homosexuals vs. Trans 2: Electric Boogaloo

I have recently covered this topic but I intentionally avoided the real meat and potatoes and instead opted to make the point that homosexuals have been mistreated by others and that bullying homosexuals can inspire homosexuals to bully others. Especially groups of people whom they feel are weaker than they are.

Today, I will tackle this topic more directly.

For the last month or two, I have taken on a project. I am reading the comment sections on trans related news articles of various media outlets and I am participating in the discussions. I will write about this more in future posts. For now, let me just say it is not for the thin skinned. Internet comment boards are a place where people can feel safe to say the most bigoted and vile things imaginable, even on Facebook, where most people use their real name and even then, they frequently do not hide their bigotry.

Today, I am going to focus on the type of bigotry I have faced during conversations with people who comment when a primarily homosexual news site covers a trans issue. These conversations are usually between me and one or more gay or lesbian posters. After enough encounters, patterns begin to emerge.

I am making a disclaimer because it may be obligatory considering the subject matter. Here goes: The VAST majority of cisgender homosexual people I encounter online and in real life are BEYOND accepting. I support their causes and they support mine. We are all in this together.

This post is going to focus on the bigots. Yes, I have seen plenty of shameful bigotry within the trans community as well. There are rotten apples in every barrel. I hope our collective barrels are not spoiled, in spite of the rot.

Ok. End disclaimer.

The two LGBT news feeds I most frequently participate in via their comment sections are, “The Advocate” and, “Gay Star News” via their Facebook feeds. Both are outlets that tend to focus on gay issues the vast majority of the time, followed by lesbian news stories, then bi and trans articles combined getting about 5-10% of their coverage, and the occasional Q,I or A article thrown in to spice things up.

As I run through these examples, I want you to understand, these SAME types of comments popped up frequently, by multiple posters, over multiple comment threads. I am not listing things I saw just once, I am listing things I have seen dozens of times.

The first type of negative comment a trans story will tend to get is: “Why are you guys posting so many trans articles?”

To them, let me personally apologize for taking a teeny tiny sliver of your news outlet pie away from you. It must be hard to have to scroll past one in ten or twenty articles that do not directly relate to you.

These comments are far from the worst a trans person will encounter, but the point is made clear. “Trans news is not worthy of taking space beside their news.”

Then there are the ones who say something like: “Whatever floats your boat, just don’t hit on me.”

To them, let me personally apologize. You must get hit on a lot, so it must be a logical assumption that if the two of us ever came face to face, I would not be able to control my animalistic need to jump your bones. I will do my best to keep myself in check. I apologize in advance though, especially if I screw up.

Their point is made clear. These commentators do not find trans folk attractive and they want the world to know it. Again, far from the worst type of comment you will hear online.

Then there’s this: “There is no such thing as trans. They are just closeted homosexuals.”

To them, let me personally apologize. You caught me. My bad. I am sorry. I just thought it would be SO MUCH easier to land a gay man if I, you know, transitioned to female.

Their point is made clear. My existence and identity are not valid. Theirs is.

The next example: “My gender is male. I know this because I have a penis!”

To them let me apologize. I’m sorry. I too have a penis, for now at least, and all this time, in spite of my penis, I thought I was trans. I guess I was incorrect. And to think, it was right in front of me all this time!?! Gee! Thanks for the help!

Their point is made clear. My existence and identity are not valid. Also, these folks can’t be bothered with dictionaries and definitions. To them, gender and sex are exactly the same thing. They are not. Sure, they are used as synonyms on occasion but that is because most people have a gender identity that is in line with their physical sex. Also, they are used as synonyms because not too long ago, the word, “Sex” was considered to be much more vulgar than it is today. Gender was used as a euphemism to take its place. “Shoot” does not really mean, “Shit” but it can take its place as a euphemism. “Darn” does not mean, “Damn”. Aw, fudge it! Read a fucking dictionary! Clearly you have access to the Internet, you are posting to an online discussion. You can use your Google machine to make sure words mean what you plan to insist they mean.

This next one, I call the mansplaining cisplainer: “Nope. There is natural born male and female. Period. Case closed. And don’t bother appealing to the Mother Nature Court of Appeals because your case is dead on arrival.”

To him, let me apologize. I am sorry. I should have a better understanding of sex and gender, what with being trans and all. Oops.

His point is made clear. My existence and identity are not valid. He is here, to explain things to me, because I am a trans woman, and therefore, I am obviously not smart enough to grasp such things. Posts like this almost always begin with words like, “No.” or, “Nope” then go on to say things much like what I have already said myself minus the bigotry. So not only am I invalid in his eyes, my posts are not even worth reading by him before he replies to them, because he assumes he magically knows what I would say without reading it, and that is good enough for him.

This next one is often related to the one above, the same kind of person often falls into both categories: “Don’t call me, ‘Cisgender’ that is a slur!”

To them, let me personally apologize. I am sorry. It is hard talking about trans issues without a word to describe people who are not trans. I promise I do not intend it as a slur. “Cisgender” or, “Cis” means, “Non-trans”. If only you homosexuals had a word to describe people who are not homosexual. You know, those normal, non-homosexual people? It must be so difficult for you without a simple word to describe those people who are attracted to the opposite sex.

His point is made clear. My existence and identity are not valid. How dare I use a scientific word that means exactly what I think it means to correctly label a person who is not trans?

Then there is this type of comment: “If you were born thinking you could pretend to be a woman, then what is to keep me from saying I was born believing I am a mermaid/dragon/dog… etc.?”

To them, I offer this apology: I am sorry. That is an old joke. It was moderately funny the first time I heard it 8-10 years ago on, “South Park” when Kyle’s dad decided he would finally transition into a dolphin since he was born believing in his heart that he truly was one. The joke has since lost its luster. I see a variation of it in almost every single comment thread about a trans topic. Get some new material.

Their point is made clear. My existence and identity are not valid. It is a joke. You see, they too can pretend to be someone or some thing they are not. If you want, you can look at how I recently took down a person who claimed to be born Batman, see my last blog post.

The last two types of comments are complex. They are hard to summarize in one post, as they unfold through sometimes lengthy conversations.

The first type is the worst: The passive aggressive, bigot in denial. This person will stoop to almost any level. They will insult a trans person’s name, looks, gender identity, they may even mock a trans person’s feelings of dysphoria or suicidal thoughts. They are often subversive. One example of subversion was a guy who kept saying things like, “Sorry Charlie.” and, “No shit Sherlock!” to me, knowing full well he was calling me by male names, and still, I knew that he would be able to safely deny it if I ever called him out it because, hey, they are just things we say. These folks exhibit true troll like behavior, but they are fully in denial of it. it is like, they are convinced they are doing me a favor, by breaking the bad news to me

Their point is not as clear as others, but it is fascinating. They HATE trans people, but they know better than to just outright say it. They know they will look like a bigot, so they push your buttons in the desperate hope that you snap, say something rude to them, and give them permission to not only openly hate you, but to use you as an example in the future for why they continue to hate on other trans folk. You do not see this tactic much outside of LGBT feeds, but it happens all the freaking time in LGBT feeds. I guess people who have faced oppression themselves, know better than to be overtly bigoted, but my God! If you dare show ANY defensive emotion in response to their comments, they will let you have it. They want permission to show their hatred, but you have to take the bait first.

This last type is unique and also evolves and emerges over a long discussion. This type of person is abrasive and rude to you from the get go but underneath, you begin to see their compassion, respect and intelligence. They are like older siblings. They may play too rough at times, but they know the world is not for the weak, especially if you are LGBT. They have been there before and they want to help you climb to new heights.

Their point is harsh, but sound. The only problem is, sometimes they fail to realize that trans folk can have different types of triggers than cisgender homosexuals and therefore, they might cause a dysphoric bout in a trans person without realizing it or intending to do so.

That is it. These are the most common forms of bigotry I encounter on LGBT discussion boards. They happen all the time. I will be writing another post soon where I will give some tips and tricks to having a higher percentage of positive encounters when you are stupid enough to read the comments.

Until then, aloha,

Tori

D.C. vs. Marvel

I have officially won the Internet. Thanks for playing.

Discussing trans health care in a comment thread for a news page, someone sarcastically stated: “I am Batman, I have always known. I want the government to pay for my costume.”

I could not resist. I had to reply: “We all know who you really are, Mr. Wayne. You can afford your own costume. Hell, just from the taxes you pay on the interest you earn, you could buy costumes for the poorest 98%.

It is a false analogy though. You are making a joke, but nobody, not even you, is born Batman, Mr. Wayne. You decided to become The Dark Knight after the childhood trauma of seeing your parents murdered in cold blood. Everybody knows that.

I was born trans.

Perhaps Superman would be a better analogy, but then again, he was just a baby named Kal-El from the planet Krypton. He did not get his powers until he was exposed to the power of our Sun… so not the best analogy either.

I was born trans.

Let’s try Marvel… D.C. Is not working out.

Spider-Man? Nope. Radioactive spider bite.

Thor? Captain America? Hulk? Nope. Nope. Nope.

Perhaps one of the X-Men. While I resent being compared to a mutant, they were born that way and let’s be honest, I too AM an ex man!

There’s your analogy, Mr. Wayne, free of charge. When comparing yourself to a trans woman by using a comic book/superhero analogy, go with the X-Men. Marvel wins. You’re welcome.”

Tori Barton won the Internet on the day of, April 6, 2015. You are lucky to know me. That is all.

Homosexuals vs. Trans

Being accepted as trans can be a struggle, even amongst the LGBT community. Much of it is rooted in miscommunication and misunderstanding. It is ironic how much understanding transition brings me, at the cost of others failing to understand me as a trans woman.

It really does not matter if you are in a minority or in the majority, bullying begets bullying, and trans folk fall so low on the discriminatory totem pole, there are not many people left to bully but our own self. Walk a mile in my heels and you will understand, I am sure. Then again, I bet most of you know better, because society has already told you what the general consensus happens to be when it comes to trans folk like me.

For my own safety, I have begrudgingly lumbered like a bull dyke back into my China closet. I HATE it, but I am insolvent, unemployed, and I do not know enough about the community I have moved to, to go in guns a blazin’, and paint the town trans. Fortunately my head is in a good place, so the need to hide myself externally is not overwhelming my ability to be myself internally. I guess guy clothes are like my burka right now.

I hate it. I have made so much progress this last year, only to be set back like this, and there is nothing I can really do about it right now. I have to bide my time and hide my shame.

Now, several people have told me, “Nobody is stopping you.” including my wife. I appreciate what they are saying and I appreciate the support.

I am just learning to trust my female intuition and it tells me this is neither the time nor the place to be flamboyant with my transition. I am stuck here, out of necessity, and by God, it better be short term.

I overheard a conversation last night where a guy was talking about how he’d recently been hit on by a gay man. Everybody with him rolled their eyes in understanding. He went on to say the gay guy came up to him like, “‘Hi-ee, what are YOU doing here?'” in a stereotypically effeminate voice, “So, I set him straight.” he went on to say.

My first thought was, “Well, I doubt you set him STRAIGHT.” and my next, “What does that even mean? Set him straight? Did you reject him or beat the shit out of him?” then, “Does this gap-toothed douche-nozzle even know the difference between being hit on, and someone just trying to spark a conversation?” and finally, “Is he just saying this because I am near, and he can tell I do not fit the norm?”

Intuition.

The need for men to be masculine here, is ingrained in the culture.

I heard similar things in Hawaii, but only rarely and typically in hushed tones. Here, that type of thinking gets socially reinforced by folks all the time, to the point where gays stay underground, and still there are pricks so insecure in their masculinity, that they have to prove how un-gay they are by telling stupid stories like that one. I mean, how dare that gay guy even talk to him!?!

And I realize, homosexual people frequently disregard trans folk while trans folk are left looking up to them on the fucking discrimination totem pole. It is time to say the obligatory, “Not all homosexuals.” I have SO many supportive people in my life and many of them are so far from straight, they look like a spiral.

I also realize, within this group that guy was telling his story to, was one very good looking female. Sure, I could see her agreeing with him, at least externally, but I imagined she was also thinking, “Get over it, dude. I get unwanted advances all the time and I have to navigate them without being seen as a total bitch!”

But yeah, in past posts, including one about the TERFS (trans exclusionary radical feminists) and another about the use of the word, “Tranny” in gay circles, I have already explored how there are some very vocal groups within the homosexual community who are happy to keep trans people below them. Bullying begets bullying.

In spite of all this horse shit, I am discovering something. Unlike that homophobic turd, I am finally and totally secure in my own masculinity. I guess that is an unexpected perk of finally embracing my true femininity. It is a luxury most men, including many gay men, may never have.

Aloha,
Tori

When Did I Know I Was Trans*?

At five years old

I was putting my baby sister’s

diapers on.

I saw her vagina.

I wanted one.

I wanted one.

– Eve Ensler

The Vagina Monologues

 

I’ve quoted this portion of Eve Ensler’s play because it really sums up the realization I had at a very young age, although I had no sister. I was an only child. Many details surrounding my realization are hazy as they tend to be with early memories, because so many of the details surrounding the event were incomprehensible at that age and therefore, not stored away like other more mature memories.

Also, worth noting, I was a very sick child. I probably would not be alive today if it were not for modern medicine, but I also would likely have clearer memories from my early years had I not been on some pretty hard drugs for quite some time.

In ancient times, the combination of my early illness which I overcame, combined with my non-binary gender, would have made me a great candidate for a shamanistic position within the tribe. Instead, I became an actor. But hey, a storyteller and a shaman were not that different in ancient times. Both were unique and valued positions within a community and they stood outside the typical hunters and gatherers. I am hard wired differently than most people, and it is frequently misunderstood in these modern times.

As I transition, my ability to see things from multiple viewpoints has increased exponentially. Male and female, liberal and conservative, religious and secular, all these things and why they lead to silly conflict that could easily be avoided are becoming as easy for me to read as a Dick and Jane story.

If only my own inner conflicts were as easy to decipher.

The human mind does not grasp the concept of gender until 3-5 years old. Most trans people realize they are different during this window of time, although a fair percentage learn later, around puberty, and a few learn even later still. The vast majority make the discovery before the age of eighteen. The amazing thing is in spite of this realization most remain closeted. It is as if, as soon as they know they are different, they also realize that their difference will not easily be accepted by the society around them. Typically, a society that has already told them time and again that they are a boy or a girl and nothing in between. Even 3-5 year olds come to this rather complex conclusion.

Perhaps society has become so large, global even, that the collective hive is more important than the individual who is unique. Perhaps that is a good thing in many cases. We can’t have people who disagree with the meaning of traffic lights and one way streets on our roads without increasing the mortality rate of others.

I have a deep respect for religion. It serves a purpose. I am also one who tends to look at things from a secular perspective, especially when it comes to concepts like society and gender, things most people silently agree upon even though they often enough do not realize these very things are completely conceptual. The only reason society is real is because most people agree to live within it. Same goes for gender.

I know some of you are already in disagreement, and that is one of the fun things about having a blog. You can disagree with me all you want, but the post remains. I will appreciate any comments after this post and will respond if further clarification is needed. So much time is spent on the Internet trying to prove yourself right at the expense of others. It can be a delightful waste of time.

Why is gender conceptual? Well, those of you who read this blog regularly already might have a hunch where I am going with this. Gender lives between the ears. I am the gender I think I am, and I am also the gender others think I am. That means I can simultaneously be both male and female within the concept of gender. Physical sex works differently and legal sex works differently too, although legal sex, like gender, is conceptual. Physical sex is based in gonads and chromosomes. Legal sex is based in a societally agreed upon piece of paper. Gender is invisible. One could argue it does not really exist at all, outside the mind. It is both a complex concept, and yet one most of society agreed upon at a very young age without even realizing it. If you see a woman, you gender them female. If you were to learn that they have or had a penis, that they are chromosomally male, it might change your opinion about their gender or it might not. Because gender is a concept, it works on a spectrum even though most people see it in black and white or ones and zeros, which is known as the gender binary. Gender fluidity is a thing, because people can present as they will, or even change their own opinions from day to day or moment to moment about who or what they, or someone else happens to be.

As for religion, I find it to be one of the most useful constructs within society and also one of the most harmful. People like to be right. Religion is yet another place where people can convince themselves of how right and righteous they are. The most adamant are frequently the most polarizing and incorrect in the eyes of others.

And yet, humans have a huge capacity for spirituality. Spirituality as a concept is as important as society or gender, it is one of those things we agree upon often without knowing it. What is spirituality? It is belief in spirits. What are spirits? They are things that exist, but not in a tangible form. Concepts like society and gender are by their very nature, spiritual. They only exist in the mind or the collective knowledge we share. We live in a world based on, from the cornerstone to the roof, intangible spirits that we agree upon in order to construct a society.

Homer Simpson is a spirit, he is intangible and exists only because people agree, therefore reifying him in the process. One could argue the same about God.

Humans have a huge capacity for the spiritual. Any human with an imagination spends part of their time amongst the intangible world of spirits. It both exists and does not exist simultaneously. Memories too, are spiritual in nature.

And that brings this meandering post back to my point. My memories of discovering I am trans are quite vague and hard to put into words.

The moment I remember most, perhaps it was at a babysitter or a family gathering, was innocently catching a glimpse of a baby girl’s diaper being changed and in that moment having my entire understanding of what was real, who I really was, flipped on its head. It was not sexual at all, as that concept came much later for me. It was just the realization that girls were physically different than boys. It wasn’t just a thing people decided to call us, girls were different physically. Not only that, but my brain matched the female physicality rather than the one I had been born with. It was not a decision, it was a realization, an awakening, an awareness that I spent decades learning to cope with and hide before realizing the futility of that endeavor.

At a very young age, I grasped the concept of gender, like humans do but, my realization at the time caused me to feel mentally incongruous with my physicality. The very discovery children tend to have around that age thrust me into realizing how conceptual and spiritual “Reality” really is. At the same time as my peers were realizing their assigned roles, I was awakening to the fact that I was assigned incorrectly and I feared society had little room for people like me, who didn’t fit their suggested mold. I found a respite inside the theatrical community, where the world of spirits could be made real, if only for a finite period of time before returning to their spiritual form once again.

To me, the imaginary is as real as anything else, because society itself is based upon a collective imagination. You may disagree with my gender. That is fine. We are both right. No need to prove yourself right at my expense.

Aloha,

Tori